18 April 2024
Entertainment Music

Evaluation: Years Late, a Younger Pianist Lastly Will get to Carnegie

The French pianist Alexandre Kantorow was imagined to make his Carnegie Corridor recital debut on March 25, 2020, as a late substitute for the ailing Murray Perahia. We all know what occurred with that.

When Kantorow, 26, lastly made it to Carnegie on Sunday afternoon, it was once more as an alternative to an eminent colleague, this time Maurizio Pollini. The symbolism of the rise of a brand new technology of performers was onerous for me to overlook, particularly since after Kantorow’s recital, I walked to Alice Tully Corridor to witness the Emerson String Quartet’s beautiful retirement live performance.

This wasn’t Kantorow’s first time taking part in at Carnegie; he carried out two items at Zankel Corridor in 2019, as one of many winners of that yr’s Worldwide Tchaikovsky Competitors. However Sunday’s very tremendous recital, on the corridor’s most important stage, was a completely completely different sort of platform.

And he arrived with expectations ratcheted up even larger than if he had merely (ha) received the Tchaikovsky. Final month, he acquired the elusive, prestigious $300,000 Gilmore Artist Award, given to a pianist each 4 years after a secretive choice course of akin to the MacArthur Basis’s “genius” grants; Kantorow didn’t know he’d been into account till he discovered he had received.

The stereotype is that competitions mint quick-fingered however senseless virtuosos, whereas the Gilmore rewards extra mature, idiosyncratic artists. To win each the Tchaikovsky and the Gilmore suggests Kantorow has technical safety in addition to one thing to say.

That felt true on Sunday. A fast look on the lineup made this appear a probably drained program: Brahms, Bach, Liszt, Schubert. However Kantorow selected Brahms’s Sonata No. 1, an unwieldy thicket of notes that’s hardly a recital chestnut.

And the Bach was Brahms’s austerely grand transcription for left hand of the good Violin Chaconne in D Minor, relatively than the extra well-liked, gaudier Busoni transcription for each palms. The Liszt was a set of his renderings of Schubert songs, none omnipresent and one by no means earlier than performed at Carnegie. Solely Schubert’s “Wanderer Fantasy” may very well be known as a real customary.

As in his recordings of the opposite two Brahms piano sonatas, Kantorow approached this one with a poetically heavy use of rubato, the expressive stretching and urgent of tempo from second to second.

It was typically lovely; within the first motion, the part earlier than the recapitulation of the theme gave the sense of rising from fireplace into quiet, snowy night time. And — or, relying in your preferences, however — it conveyed ambiance higher than construction.

Kantorow introduced a peppery spirit to the Scherzo that turned it into one thing of a danse macabre. Each this and the fourth motion have been exceptionally, even a little bit drainingly quick — extra Presto than Allegro — however by no means muddied.

His account of Brahms’s Bach was rigorous but wealthy, with well-judged ebbs and flows of depth and amplitude. Of the 5 Liszt-Schubert transcriptions, most attention-grabbing was the one new to Carnegie: “Die Stadt,” a collision of the track’s moodiness with Lisztian extroversion, sprays of notes drizzling out of the gloom.

It attests to Kantorow’s subtlety and focus that there was no applause between these items and the “Wanderer Fantasy,” which felt as if it had emerged from Schubert’s songs — the opening extra modest and lyrical than the same old bombast. This was assured, eloquent taking part in, the traces clear and balanced in every hand even within the chaos close to the tip of the piece.

There may be intriguing stress between Kantorow’s lucid, pearly contact and the Romantic wildness of his music-making. The 2 sides have been in memorable steadiness in his encores: transcriptions of “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix,” from Saint-Saëns’s “Samson et Dalila,” and the finale of Stravinsky’s “Firebird.” They introduced collectively suavity and showmanship.

Alexandre Kantorow

Carried out on Sunday at Carnegie Corridor, Manhattan.